Stage Dive: In Paris Makes Good Use of Baryshnikov’s Wry Charisma

Mikhail Baryshnikov and Anna Sinyakina perform a scene in "In Paris" by the Dmitry Krymov Laboratory at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College on July 31, 2012, part of Lincoln Center Festival 2012.

In Paris, the latest from painter and theater artist Dmitry Krymov, is a May-December romance set in the shadow of Red October. Mikhail Baryshnikov, now a steel fox of 64, plays Nikolai, an exiled White Russian general living out his days in post-WWI Paris. Baryshnikov utters not a word in English — he speaks French and Russian, as the English translation unspools on a series of Krymov's deeply 2-D set pieces (an enormous postcard, a cutout motorcar) and Dmitry Volkov's haunting score fills the stage like a low fog. (It's performed by the cast, a multi-talented ensemble of singers, musicians, and human synthesizers.) He's wooing another Russian emigre, a waitress named Olga (the talented Anna Sinyakina), and three quarters of the story (based on a short by writer and anti Bolshevik refugee Ivan Bunin) is nothing but the mechanics of a first date — albeit one with particularly onerous political baggage.

Stateless and newly wifeless, the general is seeking a cure for loneliness. His much younger would-be inamorata is looking for something similar: Her husband fought in Yugoslavia and hasn't returned. Wandering through Krymov's scrapbook version of the City of Light — where three dimensions are never sufficient when two will do — the pair barely connect. Yet the chemistry crackles: Baryshnikov's wry, hangdog charisma against Sinyakina's jagged anxiety. Stateless love: It may be doomed, but it's lovely to look at, while it lasts.    

Through Sunday, August 5 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College, as part of the Lincoln Center Festival